New year, new resolutions, new technology, new apps, new dangers … at the rate technology is constantly evolving and changing, there is always something new on the scene. And while that ‘something new’ may be the most amazing piece of technology ever, as we are all aware, there are often side effects as well.
There are more new apps than ever exploding onto the scene. We’ve rounded up the top 3 new apps that parents ought to know about:
ChatGPT from OpenAI is currently taking the world by storm with its innovative use of artificial intelligence (AI) to write and inform about anything and everything.
So what exactly is ChatGPT? In short, ChatGPT is a next-generation chatbot that uses AI in order to understand natural human language and generate impressively human-like written content. Created by OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company, the letters ‘GPT’ here refer to ‘Generative Pre-Trained Transformer’ i.e. a sophisticated model that uses deep machine learning to produce human-like text.
What’s most fascinating about this new chatbot is that it can generate new sentences and large volumes of material relevant to the user, rather than simply repeating pre-recorded responses, as seen with previous chatbots.
With more than a million users, ChatGPT is being used for anything and everything, from generating informal content like Secret Santa riddles and Best Man wedding speeches to creating more formal articles and academic essays, and writing computer code. Poems, plays, stories and essays - this text generator can seemingly produce entire written works after being fed a simple text prompt.
Recent concerns surrounding this product have included:
- Will students use it for homework?
- Will it pass muster for academic essays?
- Is it ‘cheating’?
- Can people recognize that these texts are AI-generated?
New York public schools have reportedly already restricted access to ChatGPT amid fears that it will be used to cheat at schoolwork - leading OpenAI to open the discussion of whether they will add a watermark to their content to alert educators if the app has been used, and also how best they can direct the app to be of educational value.
Be sure to impress upon your child that they shouldn’t use this app as a ‘quick fix’ when it comes to homework and projects. It doesn’t help students develop problem-solving or critical-thinking skills.
Created in 2020, BeReal is a French social media app that has been steadily gaining popularity in the U.S. In August of 2022, it surpassed 20 million downloads - cementing it as a top new app by Apple.
BeReal is a simple photo-sharing app, designed to be used among friends, whereby photos are shared at a different set time every day. Since users do not know in advance when the picture will be taken and shared, there can't be any planning or enhancing for the best impression. It’s designed to remove the fake gloss that tints Instagram and other social media apps, offering more authenticity and less photoshopping. Unlike other social media platforms, BeReal actively prevents branding and audience building, keeping the user experience as ‘rea’ as possible.
Although safety concerns have been addressed to a degree - for example, the default setting is private unless the user changes it to public, and as with Snapchat, photos are deleted after 24 hours. The ongoing issue is that if someone chooses to screenshot an image, they will still retain it even after the app has been deleted. Sharing photos online is an ongoing concern, there’s always the risk of strangers or possible predators. Additionally, you don’t know what other content your child could be exposed to.
Another thing to be aware of with the new app: Location. The default is that the user’s location is shown - a child or teen needs to turn it off to protect their privacy manually. It’s these little details concerning their privacy that young users may not know about.
Have you heard of Mastodon yet? In 2022, millions of users began flocking to the new social media platform. So what is Mastodon?
This decentralized social media network currently has 1.4 million monthly active users, according to its website. Mastodon is built on open-source software and resides on the Fediverse, which stands for "federated universe," an online universe of applications and websites connected by thousands of independent servers. Currently, there are about 5,700 Mastodon servers on the Fediverse. Much of the appeal of this social media network stems from the fact that it doesn't belong to any one person or organization.
So, unlike connecting to one platform or organization, in the case of Twitter for example, when you connect to Mastodon, you first connect to one of these servers, run by either a group or individual person. Each group may have its own rules for joining and how content is moderated - in a similar fashion to a Facebook Group admin or moderator. Once you are on a server, you can see posts and messages from anyone across the entirety of Mastodon's servers.
So what are the Mastodon risks and concerns?
On its website Terms of Service, Mastodon suggests that users do not share any sensitive information on the platform. However, young social media users have increasingly shown themselves to be relatively unaware of their digital footprint and their disclosing of sensitive information online. So before your kid uses this app, reiterate to them the importance of online privacy.
Whatever new apps your kids are experimenting with, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them and get savvy surrounding any risks and pitfalls. Using a parental control app, such as FamilyKeeper, is also recommended, as you will receive alerts if your child’s safety is being compromised, such as if an unknown contact is attempting to message them, or offensive language is being used on an app.
For more information, visit: https://familykeeper.reasonlabs.com/